Religion News Australia

January 22 – 29, 2023

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



‘Unfinished business’: Ballarat abuse survivor to tie a ribbon at St Mary’s before George Pell funeral (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 26 – When the Ballarat abuse survivor Paul Auchettl flies to Sydney to tie ribbons to the fence outside St Mary’s Cathedral ahead of George Pell’s funeral, he’ll be thinking of a promise the late cardinal made to him last time they met.

Member of controversial Geelong church charged with child sex abuse offences (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 27 – A man connected with a secretive and ultra-conservative Pentecostal church in Geelong has been charged by police with multiple child sex abuse offences.


National School Chaplaincy Program report backs name change, choice of wellbeing officers (ABC News)
Jan 28 – An independent evaluation of The National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) has found there are benefits of having chaplains in schools, but has endorsed plans to broaden the scheme to include secular support staff.

War of words erupts between Opus Dei schools and the ABC (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 28 – NSW’s powerful education authority is investigating Sydney schools linked to Opus Dei amid a war of words between the ultra-conservative Catholic group and the public broadcaster.

Private schools lock in high achievers as demand for scholarships rise (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 29 – Demand for scholarship spots at Sydney’s private schools is rising, with at least 20 institutions offering places in year 4 and 5 in a bid to lock in high-achieving students before they reach high school.

Catholic Church

‘A great guy’: Pope forgives harsh critic Pell (The Australian)
Jan 27 – (Opinion: Tom Kington) Francis defends George Pell for criticising him as he demands other opponents of his ‘mercy over dogma’ style challenge him to his face.

‘A mounting civil war’: Pope Francis’ future under renewed speculation (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 28 – London: Pope Francis has but one request. He’d like his critics to summon the courage and tell him to his face.


Tensions build between Türkiye and Sweden (ABC News)
Jan 22 – Amid Sweden’s bid to join NATO, protests in Stockholm against Türkiye, the gatekeeper to the Nordic country joining the military alliance, have sharply heightened tensions between the two countries.

Also: Turkey condemns burning of Qur’an during far-right protest in Sweden (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 22 – Turkey has condemned a demonstration involving the burning of Qur’ans in Sweden on Saturday, further inflaming tensions between the two countries amid Stockholm’s Nato bid.

Religious Violence

US military kills senior Islamic State official Bilal al-Sudani in Somalia (ABC News)
Jan 27 – US special forces have killed a senior Islamic State group figure and 10 other terrorist operatives in remote northern Somalia, senior Biden administration officials say.

Daniella grew up in The Family, then joined the army — where she experienced toxic control, again (ABC News)
Jan 27 – (Review) On Daniella Mestyanek Young’s first day of military training, she stands among her fellow recruits holding a duffle bag high in one arm above her head.

Jihadist Sayfullo Saipov could face execution over Halloween truck rampage on New York bike path (ABC News)
Jan 27 – An Islamic extremist who killed eight people with a speeding truck in a 2017 rampage on a popular New York City bike path has been convicted of 28 federal crimes and could face the death penalty.

Moscow-link to Koran-burning stunt that could stop Sweden joining NATO (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 27 – A far-right journalist with links to the Kremlin has been accused of being behind a Koran-burning stunt that has infuriated Turkey and threatened Sweden’s attempt to join NATO.

Jerusalem synagogue shooting leaves seven dead, including gunman (ABC News)
Jan 28 – A Palestinian gunman has opened fire outside an East Jerusalem synagogue, killing at least seven people in one of the deadliest attacks on Israelis in years, which comes a day after a deadly raid by Israeli forces.

Also: Eight Israelis killed leaving synagogue in East Jerusalem (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 28 – Eight Israelis have been shot and killed as they left a synagogue in East Jerusalem, in the latest episode of spiralling violence across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories over the past two days.

Palestinian teen, 13, fires on Israelis a day after 7 killed in Jerusalem (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 29 – Jerusalem: A 13-year-old Palestinian boy has opened fire in east Jerusalem, wounding two Israelis, officials said, a day after another attacker killed seven outside a synagogue in the deadliest attack in the city since 2008.


With his luxury watch and murky Soviet past, Kirill is Putin’s spiritual leader and power broker (ABC News)
Jan 22 – When Patriarch Kirill sat down with Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov he might not have realised the meeting would embroil him in controversy.

Bible study and work without pay: the shadowy world of sober living homes (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 27 – Kaitlyn, 32, applied for a spot at Hope Center Ministries near the end of 2021 because it seemed like her best option at the time.

‘Moral duty’ to allow family and friends to make big life choices, says Cambridge philosopher (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 27 – Dr Farbod Akhlaghi, a moral philosopher at Christ’s College, argues that everyone has a right to “self authorship”, so must make decisions about transformative experiences for themselves.

Hitler didn’t build the path to the Holocaust alone – ordinary people were active participants (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 28 – (Opinion: James Bulgin) I have been working around the subject of the Holocaust for more than a decade at the Imperial War Museum.

 ‘I was a drunk for 20 years’: The unlikely US priest revered in the slums of Bangkok (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 28 – “This other priest is always drunk, so you go take his place.”


Muslim leaders with lived experience of drug abuse helping overcome addictions and stigma (ABC News)
Jan 28 – Robbie Hamza became entangled in a world of crime and drugs when he was just 13 years old, but he eventually got out and turned his life around.


Holocaust survivors call for Nazi salute to be outlawed in Victoria (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 27 – Holocaust survivors are spearheading a push to outlaw the Nazi salute in Victoria a day after neo-Nazis used the salute at a January 26 ceremony for Indigenous Australians.


Lifepointe Baptist Church rebuild could take 18 months after fire destroys building (ABC News)
Jan 23 – The head pastor of a large Baptist church on the Sunshine Coast expects the rebuilding process to take up to 18 months, after fire destroyed the building over the weekend.

‘This was hate speech’: Hindu community alarmed by temple attacks (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 28 – The Indian government has expressed alarm at a spate of graffiti attacks on Hindu temples that has shaken worshippers in Melbourne and inflamed tensions within Australia’s large and growing Indian diaspora.

NBL’s first openly gay player Isaac Humphries ‘disappointed’ by Cairns rejection of Pride jersey (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 28 – A disappointed Isaac Humphries has questioned the Cairns Taipans side’s decision not to wear jerseys celebrating the NBL’s inaugural pride round.